Protestant Reformed Church
Lord’s Day, 21
therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and
wherewith one may edify another" (Rom. 14:19)
- 11:00 AM
Administration of the Lord’s Supper
Blessed Pilgrims Heading to Zion [download]
Reading: Psalm 84
I. Where Their
II. How Their
III. Whom They
56:7-13; 63:1-8; 84:4-11
Evening Service - 6:00 PM
A Day in God’s Courts [download]
Reading: Psalm 84
Superlative Excellency of It
II. The Many
Blessings of It
III. The Earnest
Request for It
57:1-4; 143:6-12; 84:7-12
Stephen Murray for CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship
Quotes to Consider:
Matthew Henry on Psalm 84:5: "Those whom he
pronounces blessed are here described. They are such as act in religion
from a rooted principle of dependence upon God and devotedness to him:
Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee, who makes thee his
strength and strongly stays himself upon thee, who makes thy name his
strong tower into which he runs for safety (Prov. 18:10). Happy is the
man whose hope is in the Lord his God (Ps. 40:4; Ps. 146:5). Those are
truly happy who go forth, and go on, in the exercises of religion, not
in their own strength (for then the work is sure to miscarry), but in
the strength of the grace of Jesus Christ, from whom all our sufficiency
is. David wished to return to God’s tabernacles again, that there he
might strengthen himself in the Lord his God for service and suffering."
Announcements (subject to God’s will):
The March CR News is available on the back
table, along with Rev. Stewart’s bi-monthly letter to the PRC.
After a week of self-examination, confessing members
in good standing are called to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s
Supper. Your participation in the Lord’s Supper is in part a witness
that you repent of your sins, believe that Jesus Christ is your
righteousness and desire to live a new and godly life. As this heavenly
food can be taken to one’s judgment (I Cor. 11:28-30) and as the common
reception of this food is a confession of doctrinal unity (Acts 2:42),
the elders supervise the partaking of the sacrament. Visitors from other
denominations must request permission from the Council.
7 PM - Jacob & Nathan at the Buchanans
Tuesday, 8 PM
- Mark & Lauren at the Hamills
PM - Beginners OT Class at the manse
Midweek Bible study meets this Wednesday at 7:45
PM at the manse. We will be studying I Peter 4:12f. on fiery trials.
Ladies Bible study meets this Thursday, 25 March,
10:30 AM, at the Murrays.
The Reformed Witness Hour next Lord’s Day
(8:30-9:00 AM, on Gospel 846MW) is entitled "The Suffering Servant (2):
The Man of Sorrows" (Isa. 53:1-3).
Everyone is invited to stay for tea after the
evening service next Lord’s Day.
Meetings: Shannon Bible Study, Thurs., 1 April, 6 PM, on Ephesians 1
Lecture, Fri., 2 April, 7:30 PM, on "Charismaticism"
Lecture, Ballymena Protestant Hall, Fri., 9 April, 7:30 PM, on
"Preaching: The Voice of Christ"
Website Additions: 2 German and 3 Italian
translations were added.
Offerings: General Fund: £469.93. Donations:
£200 (Building Fund).
PRC News: Rev. W. Langerak declined the call to Hull PRC. Hull’s
new trio is Revs. Kuiper, J. Laning and VanderWal.
Luther’s Letter in Behalf of
Christian Schools (III)
In the next section of this letter, Luther writes
about his hopes for what subjects would be taught in the schools he
proposed. Luther recommends a liberal arts education. Luther recognizes
that convincing the people to have their children taught languages as a
part of such an education would be a tough sell, so this part of his
letter is long, but as he begins his case he also slips in a point about
But, you say again, if we shall and must have
schools, what is the use to teach Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and the
other liberal arts? Is it not enough to teach the Scriptures, which
are necessary to salvation, in the mother tongue? To which I answer:
I know, alas! that we Germans must always remain irrational brutes,
as we are deservedly called by surrounding nations. But I wonder why
we do not also say: of what use to us are silk, wine, spices, and
other foreign articles, since we ourselves have an abundance of
wine, corn, wool, flax, wood, and stone in the German states, not
only for our necessities, but also for embellishment and ornament?
The languages and other liberal arts, which are not only harmless,
but even a greater ornament, benefit, and honour than these things,
both for understanding the Holy Scriptures and carrying on the civil
government, we are disposed to despise; and the foreign articles
which are neither necessary nor useful, and which besides greatly
impoverish us, we are unwilling to dispense with. Are we not rightly
called German dunces and brutes?
Luther also warns, "And let this be kept in mind,
that we will not preserve the Gospel without the languages. The
languages are the scabbard in which the Word of God is sheathed." Luther
explains his call for instruction in languages:
But many of the church fathers, you say ... have
taught without a knowledge of the languages. That is true. But to
what do you attribute their frequent misunderstanding of the
Scriptures? How often is St. Augustine in error in the Psalms and in
other expositions ... without an acquaintance with the original
tongues? And if perchance they have taught correct doctrine, they
have not been sure of the application to be made of particular
passages ... When the faith is thus defended with uncertain reasons
and proof-texts, does it not seem a disgrace and mockery in the eyes
of such adversaries as are acquainted with the Greek and the Hebrew?
One might be surprised to learn that today there are
those who would agree with Luther’s call. Some investigation discovered
textbooks available for third grade and above in Latin and Greek. I was
not able to find any materials for instruction in Hebrew in the
elementary grades, however. Luther’s goal was for students to learn the
Bible and be able to read and understand it on their own. Our schools
share that goal. We are in a different position, however, as compared to
the saints of Luther’s day. We have a beautiful, faithful translation of
God’s Word in the King James Version. I realize that the KJV is not
perfect, and our ministers illuminate us in their sermons about where
improvements could be made, but there certainly are not as many archaic
words in the KJV as its detractors charge. As a comparison, if your
house serves you well, would you demolish it and build something new
just because you notice a few cracks in the drywall?
Luther proceeds to write of the benefits of a liberal
arts education to civil government, and he renews his call to the city
governments to establish schools since the common people cannot do it
and the princes and lords will not.
But were they instructed in schools or elsewhere
by thoroughly qualified male or female teachers, who taught the
languages, other arts, and history, then the pupils would hear the
history and maxims of the world, and see how things went with each
city, kingdom, prince, man, and woman; and thus, in a short time,
they would be able to comprehend, as in a mirror, the character,
life, counsels, undertakings, successes, and failures, of the whole
world from the beginning. From this knowledge they could regulate
their views, and order their course of life in the fear of God,
having become wise in judging what is to be sought and what avoided
in this outward life, and capable of advising and directing others.
But the training which is given at home is expected to make us wise
through our own experience. Before that can take place, we shall die
a hundred times, and all through life act injudiciously; for much
time is needed to give experience.
Near the end of this letter, Luther spells out just
what kind of schools he would like established. As you read the
following quotations, keep in mind that when Luther wrote this letter,
he was unmarried. His proposition that all children, boys and girls,
attend school for an hour or two each day was a radical idea for that
time. At that time the children of the lower classes rarely attended
school. Also, note that Luther understands education needs to change as
the world changes.
As for myself, if I had children and were able, I
would have them learn not only the languages and history, but also
singing, instrumental music, and the whole course of mathematics ...
How I regret that I did not read more poetry and history, and that
no one taught me in these branches ...
The world has changed, and things go differently.
My idea is that boys should spend an hour or two a day in school,
and the rest of the time work at home, learn some trade and do
whatever is desired, so that study and work may go on together,
while the children are young and can attend to both. They now spend
tenfold as much time in shooting with crossbows, playing ball,
running and tumbling about.
In like manner, a girl has time to go to school
an hour a day, and yet attend to her work at home; for she sleeps,
dances, and plays away more than that. The real difficulty is found
alone in the absence of an earnest desire to educate the young, and
to aid and benefit mankind with accomplished citizens. The devil
much prefers blockheads and drones, that men may have more abundant
trials and sorrows in the world.
But the brightest pupils, who give promise of
becoming accomplished teachers, preachers, and workers, should be
kept longer at school, or set apart wholly for study ...
So Luther has stated his case for the establishment
of schools to educate children in the liberal arts. Christian education
has followed Luther’s advice for nearly 500 years. Has the world changed
so much that a liberal arts education no longer has its advantages? I
think our parental elementary and high schools with their liberal arts
curricula provide our children with the skills they need to be of
service in the church and to make their way in today’s world. Today’s
difficult job market presents challenges for the new college graduates
in our denomination. However, a college degree does open more
opportunities for them, but only if they have followed a course of study
which had a definite goal in mind from the outset. We need to give more
career guidance to our young people, and if we do not know what
particular advice to give them, we can at least direct them to fellow
members of our churches who do know about different aspects of the
modern job market.
Luther ends his letter, interestingly enough, with a
call for establishing public libraries. The books he would include give
more insight into what he wishes to be taught in school.
In the first place, a library should contain the
Holy Scriptures in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German, and other
languages. Then the best and most ancient commentators in Greek,
Hebrew, and Latin.
Secondly, such books as are useful in acquiring
the languages, as the poets and orators, without considering whether
they are heathen or Christian ... For it is from such works that
grammar must be learned.
Thirdly, books treating of all the arts and
Lastly, books on jurisprudence and medicine,
though here discrimination is necessary.
A prominent place should be given to chronicles
and histories, in whatever languages they may be obtained; for they
are wonderfully useful in understanding and regulating the course of
the world, and in disclosing the marvellous works of God.
Luther closes his letter with a call to the city
councilmen to take his advice concerning education. Although we have
learned over the years that Christian education works best when schools
are operated by godly parents working together as a covenant community,
Luther’s words to the civil authorities do encourage us to maintain our
For God is now graciously present, and offers his
aid. If we despise it, we already have our condemnation with the
people of Israel, of whom Isaiah says: "I have spread out my hands
all the day unto a rebellious people." And Proverbs 1:24-26: "I have
stretched out my hand, and no man regarded: but ye have set at
naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will
laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh." Let us
then take heed. Consider for example what great zeal Solomon
manifested; for he was so much interested in the young that he took
time, in the midst of his imperial duties, to write a book for them
called Proverbs. And think how Christ himself took the little
children in His arms! How earnestly He commends them to us ... in
order that He may show us how great a service it is, when we rightly
bring them up: on the other hand, how His anger kindles, if we
offend the little ones, and let them perish ...
Herewith I commend you all to the grace of God.
May He soften your hearts, and kindle therein a deep interest in
behalf of the poor, wretched, and neglected youth; and through the
blessing of God may you so counsel and aid them as to attain to a
happy Christian social order in respect to both body and soul, with
all fullness and abounding plenty, to the praise and honour of God
the Father, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Mr. Brian Dykstra, teacher at Hope Protestant Reformed